Playa del Carmen, or just "Playa" as it is also commonly referred to by locals, is a coastal resort town in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Approximately 70 km south of Cancún and 20 km west of Cozumel, it is at the center of the Mayan Riviera and offers a more relaxed atmosphere, smaller boutique lodgings, and a distinct European flavor.
The closest airport to Playa is the Cancún International Airport.
Buses can be taken directly from the Cancún International Airport for around US$8. To get to the bus terminal, go right after exiting the main terminal and walk about 200 yards. Purchase a ticket (buying it in Pesos will save you a few dollars) right before exiting the terminal. Rental cars and one-way transfer services are also available.
Private Transfers are convenient way to get from Cancún's International Airport to your Hotel, condo, or beachfront home in Playa Del Carmen or Playacar. Private Transfers are readily available booked in advance ONLY from destination providers like Travel 2 Riviera Maya or Travel 2 Playa Del Carmen and rates are not per person they are per vehicle and the rate of course depends on the size of the group or family but generally start at $65 US Dollars.
Highway 307 is the only highway that passes by Playa. As you approach Playa from Cancún, the highway divides; to turn left to Playa, keep to the inside lanes heading south. The first east-west artery to Playa is Avenida Constituyentes, which works well for destinations in northern Playa; the second is Avenida Juárez, which leads to the town's main square. If you stay in the outside lanes, you will need to continue past Playa until you get to the turnaround, then double back, staying to your right.
Because the layout of downtown Playa is a rectangular grid, getting around is very easy.
The main east-west street, Avenida Juárez, connects Highway 307 with the town square, El Zócalo, near the beach. As it does so, it crosses several numbered north-south avenues that run parallel to the beach, all of which, interestingly enough, are multiples of five. Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), the closest to the beach, is closed to traffic from the Zócalo to Calle 6 (and some blocks beyond, in the evening).
Almost the entire town is north and west of the town square, El Zócalo. The east-west streets parallel to Avenida Juárez are numbered Calle, with even numbers to the north of Juárez and odd numbers to the south. The other main east-west street Avenida Constituyentes is located where you would expect to find Calle 18.
To the south of the downtown is "Playacar" a golf-course development of private residences and a dozen resort hotels.
Playa is pedestrian friendly town and you can basically walk to everything. The main north-south pedestrianized street, 5th Ave, does not allow cars except in the early morning hours for deliveries. On 5th Avenue are many hotels, restaurants, and small shops. The north-south thoroughfare Avenida 30, five blocks west of 5th Ave, is where the large stores are located. To walk from the town square, El Zócalo, and Avenida Juarez to Avenida Constituyentes takes only about 10 minutes.
A bike is a fun alternative to walking; there are a number of bike rental shops at the north end of 5th Ave.
Car rentals are readily available at a number of locations at the north end of 5th Ave. Large companies, National, Hertz, etc. are convenient, as well as local agencies, which are generally less expensive.
5th Ave. ('Quinta Avenida' or '5ta Av.') is a pedestrianized street and taxis are available at various intersections along its length. A taxi taken from a 'sitio' (place where taxis park) will cost a few dollars more than a taxi hailed on the street. It costs US$5 to get to Playacar, and about US$1.50 to get around the rest of Playa.
Scheduled bus service to destinations in the region (e.g. Xcaret, Xel-ha, Tulum, Cancun airport, Cancun, etc.) and beyond depart from Playa bus station at southern end of 5ta Avenida and Avenida Juárez, which is near the Ferry terminal to Cozumel.
First class ADO bus departs hourly or so for tourist destination of Xcaret, Xel-ha and Tulum - fares are in US$4 range. The ADO Bus goes directly to the entrances of Xcaret and Xel-ha. ADO also runs direct service to Cancun airport from Playa Del Carmen for approximately US$8 (80 pesos).
Second class local Mayab buses also leave from Fifth Avenue station. Mayab buses stop more frequently enroute and drop off alongside the highway to Tulum, requiring walking from the highway to the entrances of Xcaret or Xel-ha.
An alternative to the buses is to catch a "colectivo" van. These leave/return at Playa from a location on Calle 2 between Av 10 and Av 15. Colectivos are cheap government regulated air-conditioned vans which transport people on Hwy. 307, which runs north/south along the coast between Tulum and Cancun. Pick-up times for these collectivos vary, roughly every 10 minutes, and pick-up/drop-off is simply along the freeway; but one can get you a ride near to any destination between Tulum and Cancun for as little as US$1.50.
Organized bus tours are also available from a variety of companies, including Tours Aldebaran , that cross the Riviera Maya & Yucatan (Tulum, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Mahahual, Ek Balam, Celestun, Rio Lagartos, Merida, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Coba, Sian Ka'an, Xcaret, Xelha, etc.).
Xcaret Xcaret is an Eco-archaeological Park located about 46 mi south of Cancun and less than 4 mi south of Playa del Carmen, in the Riviera Maya. Here you can admire tropical flora and fauna typical of the region as well as different expressions of the Mayan culture. In its facilities you can find an archaeological site, underground rivers, beach, butterfly pavilion, orchid greenhouse, regional fauna breeding farm, Mayan village, jaguar island, among others; you can also practice water activities as snorkeling and swimming with dolphins; enjoy the Temascal and Spa services; and at night you can admire the Mexican history and folklore night show “Xcaret México Espectacular”.
Xel-Ha is an ecological theme park or natural aquarium. Here you can swim with dolphins, see sea turtles, bicycle, snorkel, cliff-dive, and scuba. If you choose to scuba you will get to pet stingrays and see larger fish. This park is quite large, so bring good shoes to walk up river, you bag your dry belongings and they will be driven back to the main area. There is a buffet restaurant and free drinks as part of the park entry-fee, as well as snorkel equipment and rafts.
Aviario Xaman-Ha is a beautiful Aviary where you will find different species, not just birds, other animal species like the butterflies, "iguanas", turtles and other small mammals. The animals and plants that live here are in their natural habitat and they live in semi-captivity, including native, threatened, and endangered species.
Quinta Avenida, also referred to in English as 5th Avenue, is the main tourist thoroughfare in Playa. It is a pedestrian only, cobblestone lined street which spans approximately 20 blocks. Along 5th Ave. you will find a variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping opportunities and various services. In Playa, nearly everything starts from this street.
The best beach is Playa Tukan at the north end of town off of Calle 26. It is best to arrive early. Rent a canopy bed on the beach. Draw the canopy back and catch the rays, then pull it back again for an afternoon nap. Mamitas Beach Club has plenty of beds and great music playing during the day. Be aware that some women do go topless but this is not widely accepted by locals.
El Bistro at La Tortuga (Hotel La Tortuga) , 984 87 30626, 7-23, 10th av, & calle 14th, consolidate following paragraph with later section titled Nightlife is definitely happening in Playa del Carmen, but is not as wild as its neighbor to the north, Cancun. Typically, Playa's shops and restaurants close around 10PM, but nearly all of the clubs stay open through most of the night. A number of the best nightclubs are located on the beach. If you are interested in nightlife (dancing, drinks late until the evening/morning), then be sure to visit Blue Parrot, El Pirata, Santenera, and Hotel Deseo. The Blue Parrot has an intense and spectacular nightly fire show at 11PM and offers beach dancing, swings at the bar, and plenty of dancing. Santenera has a beautiful roof deck bar. Deseo also has a roof deck bar, but it comes with beds. Very relaxing and beautiful.
Scuba diving and snorkeling is plentiful around Playa, though the reefs are off the shore require a boat to get to. The offshore reef is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef system in the world. All hotels have a dive shop, though many can be found on 5th Ave. Better open-water scuba diving can generally be found in Cozumel so if this is the focus of your trip it is best to stay there. Excellent snorkeling is located at Puerto Morelos, located roughly halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, and in the lagoon at Akumal, on the way to Tulum. Several dive shops in Playa del Carmen do offer cenote diving south of town. A good place to do your diving or scuba diving classes is with the Abyss Dive Center and Training Facility with bookings made in advance through their email email@example.com or check in with Jason at Fantasea Dive www.fantaseadive.com for a unique diving experience.
There are many internet cafes in Playa del Carmen, most of which also offer international phone service. Prices start at around US$1 an hour.
Cenotes are cavernous freshwater sinkholes which are found all over the Yucatan peninsula. Many of them are open to the public for swimming, diving, and exploration. Many are open, however some of them are partially underground and the caves associated with these cenotes can run for miles underground. Cenotes also vary in size with openings as little as a foot wide to as large as a small lake. The water clarity in these cenotes is often unsurpassed, often exceeding 200 feet, and makes for exceptionally good swimming. Some of the bigger cenotes are available as tourist destinations, many are locally owned, and many more still are either undiscovered or undeveloped. Entrance to the commercial cenotes is correlated to the amount of development (i.e. if there are washrooms, restaurants, showers, etc.) with fees ranging from US$1-20. for cenote snorkeling tours or cenote dive excursions look up Cenote Dive Center located in the town of Tulum and email them if you want to ask questions about diving in the area firstname.lastname@example.org
Tulum is approximately an hour south of Playa and most famous for its beautiful Mayan archaeological site which sits on a low cliff overlooking a beautiful beach and the turquoise Caribbean sea.
Cozumel, the large island off the coast of Playa is famous for snorkeling and scuba near the Great Maya Reef, the large coral system. Note that Cozumel is also a main port for Cruise ships, so can be quite busy sometimes!
Spanish language classes are available by the week at International House Maya Riviera, located on calle 14 off Quinta Avenida, at Playa Lingua, located on calle 20 between Quinta Avenida and Avenida 10, and at Academia Columbus, located on calle 6 bis and Avenida 30.
There are nearly 75 restaurants in Playa, with foods of every type and price range.
Ah Cacao Chocolate Café, 5ta Ave. at Constituyentes, . A chocolate-themed coffee shop, selling chocolate in all its forms (including pure cacao beans). Famous for the brownies. Probably serves the best lattes and espresso in Playa.
Babes Noodles and Bar Very popular restaurant bar serving Thai-style noodles, loud music, and lots of beer. Two locations: Calle 10 between 5th and 10th, and 5th Ave. between calle 26 and 28.
El Asador de Manolo Argentine owned restaurant with the best steaks in Playa! Located between 26 and 24 Streets on 10th Avenue, it's not in the middle of all the tourism, but still 20 meters away. A tenderloin-steak costs about 170 pesos, and is well worth the money - especially compared to the many very expensive restaurants located down 5th avenue. The crew is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed and cosy.
HC Monterrey, Calle 1 Sur between 15th and 20th Avenidas, well off the tourist strip of the Quinta Avenida, and a second restaurant on Constituyentes between 25th and 30th Avenidas, opposite the MEGA hypermarket. The arrachera nacional is so tender it almost melts in your mouth. The meat is served simply with a foil wrapped potato and half of an avocado. If you are looking for something a little different, but truly delicious, try HC. With prices around 85 pesos a person for the meat alone and 135 for the full meal, make sure to get there early, they are open until only 7PM.
Ileana's Il Pescadore located on the North end of Playa, a newly renamed Italian Restaurant that is a must on any visit to Playa. The Owner, a lady originally from Italy, is entertaining, charming and readily introduced us to her mother and niece. (Guess it is a family restaurant.) The Calamari is great! The tiramisu is outrageously delicious and unique. The home made pasta is superb. The portions are a decent size but you do not leave thinking you over ate. Cash only. 5 Sombreros.
La Casa del Agua is on 5th Avenue at 2nd Street, Playa del Carmen. Great ambiance; the Calamari at lunch was excellent as was the fish when we returned on a subsequent day for dinner. A little pricier than other restaurants but well worth a try. Their indoor "waterfall" is a variation of a small pool of water cascading down rocks. The method cools nicely and is emulated in several restaurants. 5 Sombreros.
La Cueva del Chango Contemporary Mexican cuisine in an offbeat 'jungle garden' setting. A refreshing change from the frenetic pace of the 5th Avenue restaurants. Calle 38, between 5th Ave. and the beach. The "Monkey Cave" is open for breakfast, lunch and supper and frequented by "locals" and many Americans who own villas locally. The morning breakfast is "Tops" and the coolness of the day makes the open air setting enjoyable. Try the Grenola/Yogurt/Fruit Crepé or the outrageously delicious Chaya Crepé. (Chaya. a local favorite, is a "tree spinach" native to the Yucatan. DO NOT EAT RAW CHAYA. It contains ARSENIC) The Changos (monkeys) are temporarily not present because they were disturbed by the current condo construction boom. 5 Sombreros for breakfast.
La Kalaka, Calle 4, between 15 en 20Av.West of Barrio Latino Hotel. Italian and Mexican cuisine. Reasonable prices and good food, cocktails, nice and romantic interior. Free wi-fi, just ask the staff.
La Pesca, Avenida 30, near Constituyentes, across from the Mega grocery store. Arguably the best seafood in Playa del Carmen. Reasonable prices, awesome food. Try the cazuela de camaron. Open every day until 9PM (but if you get there before 9, you'll still be served with a smile). Note that if you choose a main course costing less than MXN 140 you will probably be told that it is "not recommended", and will be advised something in a pricier category. If that happens, just persevere - they will happily serve the cheaper dish too.
La Parilla "Mexican Grill" is located upstairs on the corner of Calle 8 and 5a Avenida. The Mariachi band was excellent and would play any single song that they knew for $10 USD. Similarly, one guidebook mentioned the restaurant as having been excellent, but unable to maintain its excellence with the increase in traffic attributed to its past reputation. 2 Sombreros.
Media Luna 5a Avenida between Calles 12th and 14th. The locals think highly of the restaurant, as do others. However, we (four) left without trying the cuisine. Located on the second floor and open to the air on the 5a Avenida side, we found the restaurant too noisy to have enjoyed the food had we ordered. We observed one table where diners were trying to talk over one another which caused us to initially change tables before we left. The restaurant offers vegetarian dishes, fresh fish, wonderful pastas and salads. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sombreros not allocated
Oasis Mexican seafood. Battered shrimp tacos, seafood soup, fried fish. Attracts mostly Mexicans and Playa locals. Prices are reasonable and the quality is consistent.
PlayaMaya Hotel at the beach. Octopus Tacos, wonderful.
Yaxché Cocina Maya a Mayan Cuisine restaurant located on 8th Street, between 5th and 10th Avenues, a half block from 5th Avenue. The Hotel gave us a card good for one after dinner drink, a "Mayan Kiss". The soup (a Mayan Name) with Grouper was excellent. The shrimp plate was also tops. We returned on another occasion and had the Grouper dinner...Excellent! We also tried the creamed Chaya soup, wow. The menu for lunch and supper were the same as were the prices. One of our friends didn't care for the spicy shrimp dinner. 4 Sombreros.
Cockteleria Veracruz 10 Avenida Sur between Benito Juarez and Calle 1 Sur, diagonally opposite the main ADO bus station. An unassuming exterior hides a cheap, tasty and very friendly seafood restaurant specializing in seafood cocktails. Mama runs the restaurant and personally makes sure all guests are happy. Note that the oysters in some cocktails are raw - but deliciously fresh. Portions are large, so even though the cocktails and ceviches are considered entrées, anything other than a small portion is a meal on its own.
Club Nautico Tarraya On the beach between Benito Juarez and Calle 2 Nte. Specializing in seafood, it's almost certainly the cheapest place on the beach, with cevice for around MXN 40 and fried fish for less than MXN 100, and beer to wash it down with costing a mere MXN 20. The atmosphere is slightly spoilt by cheap white plastic tables and very clinical white light after sunset, but at these prices that's par for the course, and the quality and quantity of the food itself is excellent.
Perros Calientes (hot dogs) If you wanna eat a great (great is big) hot dog, you have to walk two streets from the Fifth avenue and you will enjoy so good hot dogs.
There are also various pizza stands with prices ranging from 10 pesos to 20 pesos, most of them remain open up to 6AM when bars begin to close.
Lastly, as is the case in much of Mexico, the street food is not to be missed. Simply walk south down fifth avenue until you reach the pier and taxi stand. There are generally five or six carts there serving tacos of various types. Every seafood taco is generally outstanding, along with the carnitas, pollo, and chorizo. Also, try the stuffed poblano tacos. Tacos are typically in the 2-3 USD range. For the best and freshest tacos arrive mid-morning before the lunch rush as the carts are setting up.
In-season, travellers will have no problem finding nice bars on the beach, but out of season only a few (such as Fusion, at Calle 6, with live music every evening) are open and packed. Alternatively if you are on a very tight budget many shops outside the main tourist area will sell drinks in bottles and cans that you can take onto the beach, though that is technically illegal, many in the policia do not stop it. Prices at the bars in Playa are consistent with any major tourist area, but a US$1 beer is not uncommon.
Liquor can be bought from any number of tourist shops, which typically sell Kahlua and a variety of tequilas at a price which is generally the same. If you are requiring a more diverse liquor supply, there are places in and about Playa that can accommodate. The most prominent is Covi Liquors, located Hwy. 307 in Playa, which offer a wide variety of liquors at prices that are generally cheaper than those shops which cater to tourists on 5th Ave.
Playa by Night Grand Velas All Suites & SPA Resort Riviera Maya , +52-984-877-4400, Carretera Cancun Tulum Km. 62,Playa del Carmen, Municipio de Solidaridad, Quintana Roo 77710, Mexico, this section and prior one discussing clubs needs to be consolidated Excelnte but but over priced
The Fifth avenue is packed with restaurants and bars but most close before midnight. There are two main streets to find clubs and bars that close after midnight: The 8th street between 5th and 10th Ave is frequently visited by locals and backpackers, bars like "Los Secretos" offer live music and pool tables and Red Bar offer cheap beer, 2 x 1 Drinks and great music (closes at 2am). The 12th offers more tourist places like Blue Parrot, Coco Maya and Om (http://www.omplaya.com) in the beach area and Bali Club and Santanera near the 10th Ave.(After Party).
The Dirty Martini Lounge located on 1st Avenue between 10th and 12th street gives you an alternative place to party and chill without all the hustle and bustle of the other bars. With a hotel on site and pizza served to your table for the late night munchies, this community is a great place to spend the evenings in Playa Del Carmen
El Bistro at La Tortuga (Hotel La Tortuga) , 984 87 30626, 7-23, 10th av, & calle 14th, El Bistro at La Tortuga & El Bistro en la Quinta. Two gastronomic options of good food in a relaxed atmosphere but always with excellent and consistent service, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The professional staff and atmosphere of El Bistro will make you feel at home. Two options, Choice the best for you!
PLAYACRAWL , 9:30PM till dawn, 5ta Avenida, PLAYACRAWL its a bar/pub/club crawl service (nightlife tour) in Playa del Carmen. They gather groups of people who are mostly new in town and take them on a party night out to at least 5 different bars and clubs through the night. The bars/clubs they take you have a descent ratio of foreigners and locals with a wide spectrum of music genres , but expect a party night. Their clientele age group ranges from 18 to 35 usually , but there is always exceptions. You can get all details at (http://www.playacrawl.com)
Playa del Carmen has a variety of accommodations available. You can Choose Hostels, Hotels, Vacation rentals or All inclusive.
Unlike other beach destinations, all the "best" hotels are not on the beach. A few face the ocean but the majority are set back a block or two near 5th Ave.
Reina Roja Hotel , (+52) (984) 877 3800, Calle 20 Norte Entre 5ª Av. y Av. 10 N°298, Centro, It offers 63 rooms, all of which have air conditioning, LCD TV with cable connection, and Internet connection. Some of its amenities include pool bar, solarium with sea view, and fitness center.
Hotel Posada Mariposa is a boutique style hotel located on Playa Del Carmens world famous 5th Avenue in what today is referred to in Playa Del Carmen as "Little Italy" because of the large population of Italians who are today calling Playa Del Carmen home and opening businesses bringing a special Italian style flare to the area. Within walking distance to some of Playa's finest restaurants, shopping, and night life as well as most importantly just a couple minute walk from the finest beaches in the Riviera Maya.
El Tukan Hotel & Beach Club, 1-800-008-8526 , 5ta avenida Norte Entre las calles 14 y 16 Col Centro C.P. 77710 Plya del Carmen Solidaridad, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Hotel Las Golondrinas, (0052) - 984.8732384, Av. Constituyentes 178, entre av. 15 y av. 20, Centro, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, . A small 18 room hotel surrounded by a lush garden in the northern, more quiet part of Playa del Carmen--Calle 26 between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue. This hotel is three blocks from the beach and a half a block from Playa's central pedestrian mall, Fifth Avenue. It has hands-on onsite American owners. It also has the only jungle "swing" bar in Playa del Carmen.
Mosquito Blue is a gorgeously styled upper-range option with meandering pools, a reading library and old world charm to spare.
Tropical Casablanca Hotel, (52) 984 873-0057, email: email@example.com, . A hacienda style hotel just 25 meters from the beach, that has modern amenities and multilingual trip planning specialists to assist in your vacation planning.
Hotel Paraiso Azul's Casa De Gopala, +52 984 873 0054. Boutique hotel with 16 fully furnished guest rooms, rooftop garden with swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and sightseeing, diving, and snorkeling trips. The hotel is located 300 yards from the beach. .
Aventura Mexicana , On Calle 24 between Ave 5 and Ave 10, Very nice and reasonably priced hotel about 3 blocks from the beach in the North end of Playa. Located on a quiet street, but just off busy 5th Avenue with all the action. Beautifully kept grounds, pool, friendly staff and 2-for-1 happy hour drinks (all evening!), as well as decent continental breakfast included in the room rate in their full-service restaurant
Casa del Mar Playa del Carmen, (984) 873 2584, Calle 24 entre 5ta y 10ma Avenida, Bed and breakfast style hotel with only 18 rooms. Rooms around a central pool and a sun deck offering a panoramic view of 5th Avenue where they serve continental breakfast each morning.
Hotel Alhambra, 52 984 873 0735, 8th street beach front / Calle 8 con playa, Playa del Carmen, Mexico , The Alhambra Hotel is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun, the beach and the amazing view from the terrace. In addition to comfortable rooms offers a great atmosphere and service from our team. Discover the soul of Yoga and wellness. Enjoy!
Barrio Latino, (0052) - 984.8732384 , Calle 4 entre Avenida 10 y 15 Col, Centro, Mexico, Barrio Latino is perfect for people who wants to appreciate the natural surroundings. Barrio Latino has an excellent location, and is considered as very central. All rates offer continental breakfast, wireless internet, local and international calls without limits, and access to beach club.
Via 38 , 877-421-6367, At the corner of 5th Avenue and 38th Street, Via 38 is a newer Playa Del Carmen development featuring an 83 ft. long swimming pool, rooftop jacuzzi, gym, landscaped gardens, a game room, club house, elevators, barbecue area and private parking. Each rental unit has air conditioning, fully equipped kitchen, spacious living area, dining area, satellite TV, towels & linens, stylish modern decor, spacious living areas and maid service. Via 38 has two and three bedroom rentals, some are ocean view penthouses. Guests are welcomed with a complimentary bottle of wine.
OM PLaya Hotel and Lounge bar , 984 147 0949, 12th street and the beach, The Om Playa Hotel Lounge Bar is not all about setting the mood low. With its Lounge Bar and Restaurant, the hotel has become popular amongst partygoers seeking a night of fun. Centrally located on 12th Street in Playa del Carmen, the Lounge Bar neighbors other local hot spots, which creates a vibrant and festive atmosphere. Known for its chill out lounge bar, a cushy boutique hotel, Om Hotel Lounge Bar offers clients a “one stop shop” with the ability to socialize, slumber, and nosh all at the same laid back location.
Hacienda Tres Rios Resort , 1.800.494.9173, Cancún - Tulum Km. 54, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico, Located just 10Km from Playa del Carmen in the heart of the Riviera Maya, the luxurious and eco friendly resort offers an unforgettable stay in an all inclusive plan to discover the beauty of its own pristine nature park, the first class services, the gourmet international cuisine and the comfort of the indulgent suites. Hacienda Tres Rios Resort is where luxury comes naturally.
There are some inexpensive backpacker style hostels in Playa del Carmen if you are on a budget and don't mind sharing a dorm room with other travelers this is a good option.
Hostel Playa is a nice hostel with comfy beds and big kitchen 4 blocks away from the 5th avenue.
You may also choose to stay at a condominium/apartment or house which are reasonably priced and available in the heart of the town and near the beaches.
Natz ti Ha is a nice luxury condominium complex right next to the Shangri-la hotel.
Pueblito Escondido, . Offers luxury condos steps from the ocean. Beautiful views of the ocean from roof top infinity pool. Also home to an on-site authentic Mexican restaurant and swim up bar. Penthouses have private pools and seating areas. Right next to Shangri-la Caribe.
The Blue Pearl Suites, +52 984 803 2379. 8 suites, each has a fully-equipped kitchen, its own private area, air conditioning, handcrafted Jacuzzis, hammocks, and sofa beds. Located a block away from the beach and a few minutes from Playa's La Quinta.
There are a few all inclusive resorts in Playa, but the rest are south of town in Playacar. The resorts are generally secluded, and prevent one from experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes of the city, and to some extent Mexican culture as well, since you will be surrounded by Western tourists and amenities. That said, these hotels typically offer nice accommodations that are well served.
The touristy part of Playa is laden with shops selling 'artesanias'. These basically sell the same products - shirts, bracelets, and souvenirs, but for varying prices depending on the mood of the shopkeeper and your haggling/seduction skills. Haggling is accepted in the less formal shops in Playa, as is the rest of the Yucatan, though it is worth remembering that if you are able to afford an international vacation your income is many times higher than the storekeeper's (most of whom struggle just to pay the very high rents). It is possible to buy both Mexican and Cuban cigars here, but Cuban cigar prices are not particularly cheap. Counterfeits are commonplace in Mexico, so due diligence in the selection of cigars is advisable. If you are young or have long hair, many shop keepers are likely to also offer you marijuana. Marijuana is illegal in Mexico, though its use is widespread amongst tourists.
There are three large supermarkets in Playa del Carmen: Wal-Mart (30 Ave and Calle 8), Comercial Mexicana MEGA (30 Ave. and Constituyentes), Chedraui (Highway 307 between Playa del Carmen and Playacar). There is also a Sam's Club (Highway 307 in front of Playacar).
There are two large shopping centers on the outskirts of town: Centro Maya (on the right of Highway 307 heading towards Tulum - opposite Playacar) and Plaza Las Americas (entrance is on the right side of Highway 307 as you head to Cancún, by the large traffic circle with statue at the entrance of Playa del Carmen). Both shopping centers have multiscreen cinemas and large supermarkets (Soriana and Chedraui, respectively).
There are two competing companies that will ship you across to Cozumel for around US$10. The dock is on the south end of the city, just south of the plaza. Boats leave roughly every hour, from 8Am to 8PM, and the ride itself is 30 minutes.
The central bus station, right next to the taxi street, sells rides to the entirety of the Yucatan peninsula. Bus travel is relatively inexpensive, you can either travel second class, or first class, which is sometimes also called 'Express' although it is not notably any faster at all. First class buses cost around 40% more and will have toilets and TVs on them, but both classes have air conditioning. A second class ticket to Chetumal on the Belizean border costs MXN$116 Mexican Pesos (US$11) and takes around 4 1/2 hours .
There are a lot of so called "Travel Agencies" on the 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. Please be careful because most of them are Time Share offices. One reliable Travel Agency in Playa is Solatino Tours & Travel. The owners of the Agency have made a fine quality selection of Day Excursions covering the whole area.
Tulum is a Pre-Columbian walled city of the Maya right on the ocean, the number one attraction when visiting the region, the site consists of a large temple, several auxiliary buildings and huts. Many tours frequent the archaeological zone so it is often busy, you can shop at several different vendor sites on your way in our out and it is recommended you use the washrooms near where the buses load. There are several other impressive Mayan vestiges within a few hours drive of Playa. Among them are Ek Balam, Coba, and Chichen Itza.
Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve is a wonderful nature preserve, just an hour south of Playa for the ecologically minded. Day tours available from Playa. One group offering tours is Sian Kaan Community Tours , mentioned here because it is run by a local Maya community, so your tourist dollars go directly to the community. That apart, it's great value for money (includes a tour of Maya ruins at Muyil, a float down a stream through the mangroves which other companies did not seem to offer, an experienced nature guide who points out the flora and fauna, boating through a lagoon, and not least, a delicious home-cooked Maya meal).
Charter Fishing (General) You may see many boats on the beach in Playa del Carmen waiting for a deep sea fishing charter. Ask around. Some Captains are better than others. Asking the right questions may get your catch filleted, cooked or directions to an establishment that will prepare the catch.
Numerous offshore fishing charters offered in Playa "tiendas" are in reality fronts for "time share" sales. In any case, check at your Hotel about the Captain's reputation, cooking the catch, etc. If you book through these tiendas on 5th avenue, you'll invariably end up with one of the boats parked down by the beach. So instead, just go to the beach and talk directly to the captain. You can negotiate a cheaper price as the booths aren't going to take their booking fee. On these smaller craft, the promises aren't exactly followed through on- "drinks provided" means a six pack of beer and a pop or two, so bring snacks along, and ceviche on the boat didn't exist. But most places on the beach will cook up your catch for somewhere around 7 bucks a head. If you are prone to queasiness, make sure you book ahead of time on a big boat out of Puerto Aventuras or Puerto Morelos because it can be a little rough in the smaller craft parked on the beach.
Puerto Aventuras Capt. Rick's charters (Tel. USA 01-52-984-873-5195; Mexico 01-984-873-5195). The charter fishing is a fair value. Puerto Aventuras is about 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen. The ride to the barrier reef was another 20 minutes allowing plenty of fishing time for our trip.
Puerto Morelos Fishing . Either "Puerto" is a much shorter drive than to Cancun and less expensive. In Cancun, fishing the waters, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean, can be extremely rough.
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